Follow the M&G’s live blog for all the Fifa World Cup updates as and when they happen.
8:10:35 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Contrasting emotions at the Maracana: Griezman is in tears, while Schweinsteiger and Neuer sing and dance a little bit with the fans.
To be honest, France was not good enough and didn’t push Germany enough. Kudos to Joachim Low for fielding Lahm at right-back again. The German defense was monumental today, especially Hummels and Boateng. A much improved showing and suddenly Germany – in my humble opinion – look like the team to beat.
That is France out. This World Cup is relentless. Brazil x Colombia is up next.
From us, for now, it’s goodbye.
7:59:39 pm - Fri 4 Jul
France is heading back to Paris! Au Revoir!
Germany heads to the last four of the World Cup! Neuer must be the best keeper in the World. What an extraordinary save he produced from that Benzema attempt at the end of the stoppage time. Stoic! He sort of mechanically lifted his right arm and hand to palm away that bullet – as if he had always known that Benzema’s shot would not bother him. What nerves in a quarterfinal of the World Cup.
4 – Germany are the first team in #WorldCup history to reach four consecutive semi-finals. Machine.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 4 juli 2014
7:53:59 pm - Fri 4 Jul
7:50:55 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Four minutes of injury time – Au revoir Les Bleus?
7:49:00 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Gotze for Ozil. Germany now has all seven of its Bayern players on the field.#drink
— Andrew Das (@AndrewDasNYT) 4 juli 2014
7:48:48 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Oh, big, big chance for Germany. That should have been the match. Germany broke with the speed of light in the 82nd minute, but Muller failed to connect at the near post. The ball fell to Schurrle, in acres of space, but his attempt lacked conviction and Lloris saved with his foot. France still in it!
Ozil, who was isolated for most of the game, makes way for Mario Goetze. Giroud replaces Valbuena.
7:40:10 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Pogba brings down Khedira, but the referee waves play on. The German bench didn’t look to happy with that decision. Seconds before, Matuidi tested Neuer with a powerful shot from the a tight angle on the left. France, now, pushing forward. Less than 15 minutes to play…
7:35:56 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Hugo Lloris hasn’t had a very busy afternoon, but Germany still leads France, 1-0. Photo courtesy of fifa.com.
7:34:33 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Time is ticking and finally Deschamps acts. He brings Loic Remy on for Cabaye. That means Matuidi or Pogba will have to mark a little more.
7:32:48 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Didier Deschamps take off Sakho, central defender, for Laurient Koscielny of Arsenal. It’s not precisely a response to Low’s alteration. Sakho was not 100 percent fit before the start of this game. When will Deschamps take off the handbrake?
7:30:21 pm - Fri 4 Jul
It is not precisely a World Cup classic, far from it to be precise.
How about we eliminate both Germany and France and transform Brazil vs Colombia into the semifinal?
— Mauricio Savarese (@MSavarese) 4 juli 2014
Germany, as I said, is sitting deep – happy to let the French knock it out around. Is Joachim Low’s side on its way to another semifinal? Low replaces Klose with Andre Schurrle.
The Sun has its own take on proceedings:
It's hot, but no drinks breaks. The super-smooth Low is gutted. His plan to order mojitos for all the ladies in the crowd has been foiled
— The Sun – Football (@TheSunFootball) 4 juli 2014
7:22:37 pm - Fri 4 Jul
15th minute: Varane with a header, but it doesn’t really trouble Manuel Neuer. It’s a looping header in between Germany’s central defenders, Boateng and Hummels, but it lacks power.
Deschamps remains passive, how much longer for though?
7:16:36 pm - Fri 4 Jul
That is a yellow card for Khedira as he hauls down Griezman, who was trying to launch a French counter. Nine minutes gone in the second stanza.
Cynical foul by Khedira there. Couldn't catch Griezeman so grabbed his shoulder. Not cool. Deserved his yellow.
— Andrew Das (@AndrewDasNYT) 4 juli 2014
7:13:24 pm - Fri 4 Jul
France is showing more urgency, trying to be more incisive in the final third of the field. Germany seems content with the way things are for the moment. ‘Die Nationalmannschaft’ is certainly sitting a little deeper. There is no doubt that the onus is on ‘Les Bleus’.
7:09:25 pm - Fri 4 Jul
— L'ÉQUIPE (@lequipe) 4 juli 2014
7:05:57 pm - Fri 4 Jul
No changes. Still plenty of fans looking for their seats at the Maracana. Can France turn this around?
6:56:08 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Let me grab a quick bite.
Meanwhile, read this to get up to date with all the quarterfinals in Brazil:
6:54:07 pm - Fri 4 Jul
— Stats Zone (@StatsZone) 4 juli 2014
6:53:38 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Pogba’s diagonal ball finds Benzema – well, he takes it down neatly – on the left. The Real Madrid player cuts inside, passing two Germans, but his shot lacks precision to really unsettle Neuer.
Pogba and Matuidi made more of an impact towards the end of the half, but overall, they have been too lightweight to bother the Germans. Don’t get me wrong – France is still in with a decent chance, but Germany has been the better team.
6:48:34 pm - Fri 4 Jul
— FourFourTwo (@FourFourTwo) 4 juli 2014
6:46:12 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Great photo of Hummels’ header. Courtesy of fifa.com
6:43:01 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Is the jury still out on France? Is it really a good team with the potential to win the World Cup? Germany makes France look stodgy. ‘Les Bleus’ seem to lack a bit of sharpness. But, all of a sudden, Deschamps’ men nearly equalize: the German rearguard is caught out by a ball over the top. Valbuena’s half-volley is saved by Neuer with one hand – great agility! The ball falls into the path of Benzema, but Hummels blocks his attempt – 33rd minute and that was almost 1-1.
6:37:41 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Germany still knocking on the door with attempts to double their lead. A second penalty shout, this time from Muller, is waved away by ref.
— FFW (@FrenchFtWeekly) 4 juli 2014
6:37:11 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Did you know? Since the 2002 World Cup, Germany has scored 15 headed goals, more than double any other side in that period.
6:33:51 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Germany is in control, without a shadow of a doubt – not that there is so much shadow at the Maracana. Evra and Debuchy are doing a good job for France as fullbacks, but Khedira is proving to be instrumental so far for Germany. He ventures forward a little more than Schweinsteiger, breaking up France’s attempts to attack. Deschamps looks a nervous man, what can his side muster?
6:23:01 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Germans are pressing high. The French need to wake up from their slumber.
The teams lining up before the game, courtesy of fifa.com.
6:21:28 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Hummels just bullied Varane on that goal. Owned the cross long before it arrived.
— Andrew Das (@AndrewDasNYT) 4 juli 2014
6:21:20 pm - Fri 4 Jul
TOR! TOR! Germany has scored. The French seemed to take the initiative, but it’s the Germans who strike after twelve minutes. It’s a textbook set piece: Toni Kroos sends in a threatening delivery from the left and Matt Hummels works home a powerful header. He seemed to push his marker, Raphael Varane, a little bit though.
6:14:50 pm - Fri 4 Jul
— Rupert Fryer (@Rupert_Fryer) 4 juli 2014
6:13:07 pm - Fri 4 Jul
7th minute and a big chance: Lahm – of all people – nonchalantly clears but only as far a French player. ‘Les Bleus’ launch a quick attack as Valbuena, who pops up in the left channel of the box, finds Karim Benzema. His strike is just wide of the bottom-left corner. Not a bad attempt and a first big warning for Neuer and Germany.
6:08:57 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Possession for Germany in the opening exchanges; France retreat in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
6:07:39 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Meanwhile, outside the Maracana:
— Laurence Mora (@Morasport_Sky) 4 juli 2014
6:03:35 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Those were the national anthems. A bit of an antiseptic atmosphere at the Maracana. Too many middle class Brazilians, who usually don’t frequent football stadiums, present, eager to post their photo on Facebook, I guess. There is a message about racism before the game. Nestor Pitana is the referee of the day. He comes from Argentina. Off we are!
5:58:35 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Fairness, objectivity and even-handedness have been suspended on this account for a minimum of two hours.
— Philippe Auclair (@PhilippeAuclair) 4 juli 2014
5:56:20 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Miroslav Klose overtakes Maradona, Seeler, Zmuda with his 22nd WC match. Only Matthaus (25) and Maldini (23) ahead of him. #GER
— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) 4 juli 2014
5:54:30 pm - Fri 4 Jul
That is the FIFA anthem at the Maracana. The gladiators enter the arena…
5:52:04 pm - Fri 4 Jul
This are the ‘Dramatis Personae’ this afternoon:
Germany: Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Howedes; Khedira, Schweinsteiger; Kroos, Ozil, Muller; Klose.
France: Lloris; Debuchy, Varane, Sakho, Evra; Cabaye, Matuidi; Valbuena, Pogba, Griezmann; Benzema.
5:50:50 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Deschamps, World Cup winner in 1998 under Aime Jacquet, has chosen to play Antoine Griezman on the right. That means Karim Benzema moves to the middle. That would make sense. France only moved out of first gear against Nigeria once Griezman came on and Benezema had a more central role. Paul Pogba, who was on fire against the Nigerians, is a man to watch in the French team. He plays next to Matuidi in the midfield, with Cabaye providing cover for the back four.
5:45:51 pm - Fri 4 Jul
At least, Joachim Low hopes for the best. His team underwhelmed against Algeria – only when captain Philipp Lahm moved to his more customary position at right-back, did Germany really fire on a few of its cilinders.
It seems Low will opt to move Lahm back to the rearguard, with Samuel Khedira and Sebastian Schweinsteiger forming the midfield duo. Manuel Neuer, arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, put in a grand ‘sweeper-keeper’ performance against the Fennec Foxes, but Franz Beckenbauer has warned Neuer to stick to more conventional goalkeeping duties against France. Low will also count on a stellar 90 minutes from Thomas Muller, who has scored four goals so far at this World Cup in his role as false number nine. Remember in South Africa, he played more on the wing.
The big surprise, however, is Miroslav Klose in the line-up. He starts up front, as a conventional striker. What can a 36-year-old muster in Rio’s afternoon heat at the Maracana? In Varane and Sakho, he faces two excellent, albeit young, central defenders.
5:41:20 pm - Fri 4 Jul
Hello and welcome to Mail & Guardian’s live World Cup Coverage. We are in Recife, in the north of Brazil for another couple of days before we head back to Sao Paulo and Rio. For now though, we will have to make do with sea, sun and lots of mango juice.
It’s Friday night, so I suggest you take a nice glass of French wine or a cold German beer – depending on your loyalties – and find yourself a TV. This is the business end of the 2014 World Cup! It’s a quarterfinal between France x Germany. It doesn’t get much better than this!
5:35:22 pm - Fri 4 Jul
FRANCE X GERMANY
This World Cup has been excellent. Lots of goals in the first round – admittedy, they have dried up a little in the round of sixteen, but the drama of extra-time has made more than up for that. So what has this so called ‘Cups of Cups’ been a missing? Well, it hasn’t really delivered a World Cup classic so far. Could France x Germany fit that bill? Neuer’s wanderlust against Algeria certainly provided us with a nice narrative to babble about – the Schumacher – Battiston incident in 1982 – that game, a semifinal in Seville, was most definitely a World Cup classic!
8:25:26 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Brazilian TV Globo immediately played one of its famed soap opera’s after the game. I didn’t really follow the plot of this episode, but I guess it’s a bit cyclical: a couple comes together, one of the lovers cheats, they get together again after a lot of drama and then end the relationship for one or the other reason. You see? I’d make for a great script writer.
I don’t think Keshi really cares about what is happening in a Brazilian soap opera after his team’s performance against France. Nigeria just fell short. Will Keshi stay as coach of The Super Eagles? It’s been rumored he will take the helm at Bafana Bafana. Time will tell.
So Algeria is the last African team in the competition. Lamouchi and his troops face the, almost insurmountable, task of playing Germany. The game kicks off at 5pm local time in Porte Alegre. Enjoy it!
From us, here in Recife, it’s goodbye for now.
8:15:16 pm - Mon 30 Jun
— Stats Zone (@StatsZone) 30 juni 2014
8:08:34 pm - Mon 30 Jun
It’s a French party in Brasilia! Nigeria played and fought valiantly. For about 65 minutes, The Super Eagles dominated the game, but the introduction of Griezmann by Didier Deschamps changed the game. That said, Matuidi should have been send off for a horrible foul on Onazi. It won’t be a surprise if Keshi and co complain about the referee in a bit.
France pushed and pushed and, in the end, Nigeria buckled. After Pogba’s first goal, the Nigerians didn’t have the pedigree to respond. The last minutes of the game were not really competitive. So Nigeria is taking a plane back home, left wondering what could have been…
7:58:46 pm - Mon 30 Jun
France did enough to win on the day. Griezmann influenced the game after his arrival. Matuidi lucky to escape dismissal for Onazi tackle.
— Kyle McCarthy (@kylejmccarthy) 30 juni 2014
7:54:47 pm - Mon 30 Jun
No real need to translate what Fuleco says here.
Parabéns, Les Bleus! Depois dos 2×0 na Nigéria, nosso próximo encontro é nas quartas de final!
— Fuleco™ (@2014fuleco) 30 juni 2014
7:52:40 pm - Mon 30 Jun
That is poor by Nigeria. They played so well for the majority of the game, but they look tired and without the morale to bounce back. Omeruo passes the ball back and out for a corner down the right. Griezmann adds a second for Les Bleus from Valbuena’s cross. In fact, the ball bounced off Yobo’s leg into the net.
7:43:36 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Sensational save by Enyeama! He saved from Griezmann, who was trough on goal on the left channel. He blasted a ball towards the roof of the net. Enyeama lifted his hand in the nick of time to palm it away.
7:40:49 pm - Mon 30 Jun
What has Nigeria got left in the locker?
7:39:52 pm - Mon 30 Jun
— Stats Zone (@StatsZone) 30 juni 2014
7:39:42 pm - Mon 30 Jun
The inevitable has happened in the 79th minute! Is this the end of Nigeria’s World Cup? Nigeria must feel hard done by, but Pogba heads the ball into the net after Enyeama, who has played a stellar match, can’t properly clear it.
7:35:48 pm - Mon 30 Jun
And that was nearly end! A cross flashed past the goalmouth, in the rebound Cabaye hit the woodwork with a sensational half-volley from the edge of the box.
7:33:48 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Griezmann has given the French new energy and impetus. There is more space now on the Nigerian half. Keshi’s men are seating deep and trying to soak up the pressure. It’s a French siege now!!
7:30:39 pm - Mon 30 Jun
What a chance in the 70th minute! At long last, Benzema was in the thick of the action. Griezmann and Benzema linked up beautifully to put the Real man through. Somehow Vincent Enyeama kept it out! Then it’s cleared off the line by a Moses. FIFA proudly demonstrated its goal line technology again. ‘No goal’ it said, but that was clear with the naked eye as well.
7:25:47 pm - Mon 30 Jun
So with the sub, Benezema moved to the middle. Will we get to see more of the Real Madrid striker now? Well, Nigeria went forward again. A final pass seems to be problematic, so Odemwingie tried from outside the box, but Lloris saved.
7:21:09 pm - Mon 30 Jun
What was American referee Geiger thinking? I am not sure. This was as bad as Suarez’ bite. The French, who seem to struggle in the heat of Brazil’s capital, make a substitution: Oliver Giroud makes way for Griezmann.
7:17:59 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Oh blimey!! That’s a cynical foul by Matuidi. Murder! Remember what Belgium midfielder Defour did against Korea? Well, Matuidi manages to plant his studs on Onazi’s right leg in very similar fashion. It looks very bad in the replay and Onazi might easily have broken his leg. Onazi is stretchered off and number four Ruben Gabriel comes on. How will this influence the balance of Nigeria’s midfield? Gabriel is more of a marking midfielder. Matuidi is a lucky boy, that challenge deserved a red card.
7:12:59 pm - Mon 30 Jun
This remains box-to-box staff. Nigeria looked a bit wobbly during the opening stages of the second half, but then looked dangerous as Moses broke down the right and tried to cut back to find a team-mate in the middle, but Koscielny put it behind.
7:10:10 pm - Mon 30 Jun
7:07:21 pm - Mon 30 Jun
"Nigeria is physically overpowering, but they lack the tactical nous of established [European] sides." – Every match preview for this game.
— Maxi Rodriguez (@FutbolIntellect) 30 juni 2014
7:05:16 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Enough tweets for the time being, no? My renewed attempt to grab a cookie during the break – you remember the time I tried at Copacabana beach, no? – has failed again! The second half is up and running. The game has been good in patches, a little like the field in Brasilia. Goals, please, in the second half!
6:58:09 pm - Mon 30 Jun
— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) 30 juni 2014
6:57:28 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Nigeria to win in 90' at 8/1? Hello?
— Philippe Auclair (@PhilippeAuclair) 30 juni 2014
6:56:25 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Here is an interesting read about the Qatar 2022 World Cup: http://mg.co.za/article/2014-06-25-why-qatar-and-the-2022-world-cup-are-a-good-fit
6:53:03 pm - Mon 30 Jun
— Stats Zone (@StatsZone) 30 juni 2014
6:52:43 pm - Mon 30 Jun
HT: 0-0. Emenike goal rightly ruled out for offside and best chance for Pogba. France not good enough in the last pass, Benzema invisible.
— Julien Laurens (@LaurensJulien) 30 juni 2014
6:51:16 pm - Mon 30 Jun
A entertaining end to an entertaining half. Pogba has been imperiously bossing the French midfield. This time though it was Matuidi, who burst forward with authority. He spread it wide to Valubuena, but Debuchy failed to convert a golden opportunity in the box.
At the other end, Emenike found space on the Nigeria right and took the ball towards the French penalty area. He wasn’t closed down immediately and so tried his luck. Lloris was equal to it though and palmed away.
No goals after 45 minutes.
6:38:42 pm - Mon 30 Jun
We go from manic mode to mellow and back. Both teams have settled down a little more and it’s a little less frantic for the moment. Nigeria has 53 % of possession for the moment. Still, I feel Nigeria lacks penetration…
6:34:45 pm - Mon 30 Jun
— World Cup 2014 (@PostWorldCup) 30 juni 2014
6:30:07 pm - Mon 30 Jun
This is the most open of knockout games so far. France’s main danger is coming from the right with Valbuena. Benzema has been relatively quite. Onazi and Mikel boss the midfield, but The Super Eagles lack precision in the final third.
6:28:31 pm - Mon 30 Jun
France are rattled by strong Nigerian attacking. Started full of confidence but can now see how tough this is going to be.
— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) 30 juni 2014
6:26:37 pm - Mon 30 Jun
— Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) 30 juni 2014
6:26:05 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Extraordinary attack by the French! Pogba carves open the Nigerian midfield with a bursting run. He passes it to Valbuena on the right, who delivers an inch-perfect cross to the diminutive Juve midfielder, but the volley is saved by Enyeama, who plays for Lille in Ligue 1.
6:21:36 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Nigeria has the ball in the back of the net!!
Ohh, but it’s correctly ruled out for offside. Emenike latches on to a curled through ball by Musa and pokes it past a diving Lloris at the near post, but the flag goes up on the far side and the Nigeria No9 is offside.
6:17:36 pm - Mon 30 Jun
— GotSoccer (@GotSoccer) 30 juni 2014
6:16:42 pm - Mon 30 Jun
This is brisk and breezy stuff from both teams. They don’t want to sit back and die slowly. The Nigerian forward line is supposed to be part of a 4-2-2-2, but it’s very flexible with Musa, Moses and Emenike roaming around and Odemwingie dropping deep…
6:05:18 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Nigeria is forward a first time, with a corner by Musa from the right. It’s easily cleared by the French rearguard. At the other end, Matuidi creates havoc on the left. Oliver Giroud tries to head the ball goal wards on the ensuing corner, but the referee blows his whistle.
5:59:18 pm - Mon 30 Jun
— Kick Off Nigeria (@KickOff_Nigeria) 30 juni 2014
5:54:39 pm - Mon 30 Jun
And the players are on the pitch….
5:53:04 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Here are some interesting facts, courtesy of FIFA.com:
Nigeria have become the first African team to reach the knockout phase for a third time, repeating the feat of their predecessors in 1994 and 1998. The continent still awaits its maiden semi-finalists, however, with a trio of sides having reached the last eight before exiting: Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana four years ago.
The Super Eagles saw off France 1-0 in a friendly in Saint-Etienne on 2 June 2009. Five players involved that day could feature in Brasilia: Patrice Evra, Loic Remy and Karim Benzema for France, plus Nigerian duo Peter Odemwingie and Vincent Enyeama.
France have grabbed a spot in the knockout phase for the sixth time since 1958. Each time Les Bleus have made it out of the group stage, they have gone on to reach at least the semi-finals, finishing third in 1958, fourth in 1982 and third in 1986 before lifting the Trophy in 1998 and reaching the Final in 2006.
5:49:38 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Johan Cabaye: ”It is good to be ambitious but winning the World Cup is not easy as one can see by the good teams that have already been eliminated. I respect Nigeria, though we can beat them, but to say we are going to win the World Cup one has to be careful. There is still a long way to go.”
5:46:50 pm - Mon 30 Jun
France make six changes after taking resting some players against Ecuador, with Olivier Giroud recalled and Yohan Cabaye back from suspension: Lloris, Debuchy, Varane, Koscielny, Evra, Pogba, Cabaye, Matuidi, Valbuena, Giroud, Benzema.
Nigeria make one enforced change, with Victor Moses replacing Michael Babatunde, who broke his left wrist against Argentina: Enyeama, Ambrose, Yobo, Oshaniwa, Omeruo, Musa, Onazi, Mikel, Moses, Odemwingie, Emenike.
5:41:35 pm - Mon 30 Jun
France impressed against Switzerland and Honduras, but Ecuador gave Les Bleus a reality-check. Deschamps’ men will be aware that Nigeria is probably the strongest team they have have face so far. Benzema has been in excellent form, France’s midfield is very dynamic and the defense is starting to shape up. Les Bleus on a roll?
5:38:13 pm - Mon 30 Jun
Nigeria played quite exciting football in the group stages – at least, the form of the Super Eagles got better game by game. A crucial and hard-fought victory against Bosnia followed a poor draw in the opener against Iran. The first round culminated in an exhilarating display against Argentina, with Musa stealing the show, but it didn’t prove enough to stop Lionel Messi as Argentina won 3-2.
5:32:02 pm - Mon 30 Jun
— FIFAWorldCup (@FIFAWorldCup) 30 juni 2014
5:27:28 pm - Mon 30 Jun
FRANCE X NIGERIA
Africa’s challenge at this World Cup is still very much alive. In South Africa, Ghana was the only XI, carrying the hope of a continent, after the group stages – and we all know what happened next in the quarter-finals! This time Luiz Suarez wont’ be around to spoil the party if Algeria and/or Nigeria progress to the quarter-finals. For that to happen, though, they will need to beat Germany and France respectively.
Hello and welcome to Mail & Guardian’s live coverage of the 2014 World Cup. I, Samindra Kunti, am your host for today. No Copacabana beach today! I have moved up north to Refice, close to the equator. Quite a tropical climate! I am in a hammock, sipping some soda. Not bad! But let’s focus on the matter in hand. I ‘ll be providing you with updates from the encounter between Les Bleus and The Super Eagles – for the football illiterates: France x Nigeria.
4:08:02 am - Sat 28 Jun
Of Boys and Men
- by Alexandre Gontijo
For now, Latin America seemingly rules the world of football. That must be the conclusion after the group stages of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The Europeans had always known that it was going to be tough to win the most coveted trophy in world football on the other side of the Atlantic.
Mexico, Costa Rica, and also the USA, did their homework and put out traditional powerhouses like Portugal, Croatia, England and Italy.
The heat is a factor, but it can’t be denied that in this globalized world all teams are starting to know each other better and better. The opponents got a more human face. The huge presence of the local fans cannot be underestimated. They create a feel-good factor and truly became a twelfth man for their teams.
Brazil and Argentina are obviously traditional giants with a rich football history and culture. But Colombia is a prime example of how much potential, or quality in fact, South America has. Even without its star player, qualification came easily, as did the world’s fear for the Colombians.
Cesar Prandelli – his Italy being a victim of Uruguay and Costa Rica – was very impressed by how clever and how well prepared the South American teams were in the early stages of the World Cup.
But this World Cup has also seen a lot of disappointing teams and players – mostly European. What follows might in fact read as a line-up of flops – in a 4-3-1-2 formation: Akinfeev; Joao Pereira, Pepe, Gerard Piquè, Jordi Alba; Muntari, Steven Gerrard, Boateng; Cassano; Diego Costa and Balotelli.
The Russian goalkeeper conceded five goals and didn’t impress at all. Portugal and Spain were simply a house of cards. Holland trashed the defending world champions 5-1 and Germany hammered Portugal 4-0. Both Iberian outfits were soulless – from the violence of Pepe to the lack of understanding between Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos. Jordi Alba attacked a journalist when he wrote that Alba wasn’t good enough. Muntari and Boaeteng were supposed to be the pillars of the Ghanian midfield, but they preferred to look down on their teammates (and possibly bicker about bonuses as well). Their FA sent them on their way.
Balotelli’s public life remained questionable and he didn’t do much better on the pitch. Luckily, for Balotelli, Diego Costa was even worse. He didn’t consider to play for Brazil – or Spain stole him – but Costa looked woefully out of place in Spain’s system.
Sixteen countries have left Brazil by now, but now the hour of truth has come: the knockout phase will separate the boys from the real men.
Alexandre Abreu Gontijo is a Brazilian football journalist. Gontijo has a phenomenal knowledge of South American, and international, football. He wrote for O Pasquim and has been a consultant for various international media. Gontijo writes a blog for globoesporte – http://globoesporte.globo.com/platb/conexaogontijo/. He lives in Rio de Janeiro.
12:14:58 am - Tue 24 Jun
Brazil got a much needed confidence boost tonight. I suspect Chile will fancy its chances on Saturday in Belo Horizonte. This Brazilian defense doesn’t look watertight at all, let alone Sanchez-tight.
Cameroon did not collect any points in this group, but Cameroon goes home with its head held high. The Indomitable Lions played valiantly, especially in the first half, against Brazil, but ultimately Scolari’s troops were better.
I’d suggest for you to fasten your seat belts as this World Cup has much more in store for us. For now though, it’s goodnight from us in Rio de Janeiro.
11:56:22 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Quite a telling stat:
— Stats Zone (@StatsZone) 23 juni 2014
11:56:00 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Full-time in Brasilia. Convincing win for Brazil. Easily, the host’s best performance this tournament.
11:52:31 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Brazil’s technical commission looks on. They must be happy bunch. Brazil finally shows some of its flair. Not vintage yet, but they might want to keep that for the encounter with Chile in the round of sixteen. Marcelo, meanwhile, bursts forward and Willian provides overlap. He tries to curl it to the far post, but his shot lacks precision. Into added time.
11:47:50 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Paulinho's played very well for Brazil for the last year or so, hence continued selection. But I think he's probably lost his place now.
— Tim Stillman (@LittleDutchVA) 23 juni 2014
11:45:35 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Mexcio has added a third and that would have made for some interesting math, as both Brazil and Mexico would have been locked on the same number of points and the same goal saldo. But no such worries for Brazil. Fernandinho is now openly vying for a place in the first XI. He has scored Brazil’s fourth goal of the evening.
11:36:26 pm - Mon 23 Jun
— Franco Panizo (@FrancoPanizo) 23 juni 2014
11:35:46 pm - Mon 23 Jun
11:32:21 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Neymar gets an ovation, both in Brasilia and here at Copacabana beach. What an incredible game he has played – how he has carried his ten colleagues and a whole nation. He doesn’t cease to amaze. Scolari thinks it’s enough for now and brings on Willian.
Meanwhile, Rafa Marquez has scored for Mexico. Croatia – remember – needs to win to qualify for the second round.
11:29:39 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Oscar is more involved now. Brazil looks comfortable. Even Cameroon is happy. Brazil is winning again and Finke’s team is not embarrassed.
11:26:07 pm - Mon 23 Jun
I never understand why Scolari likes Ramires that much. Yes, he brings more solidity to Brazil’s defense, but isn’t this game all about winning over the Brazilian fans?
Ramires on for Hulk, the Zenit forward has been better tonight but Scolari obviously making the change to shore his side up defensively
— Sambafoot English (@Sambafoot_en) 23 juni 2014
11:23:19 pm - Mon 23 Jun
I wanted to grab a cookie during the break, but no such luxury for me. Another internet failure here in Rio, but at least Brazil got off to a fast start. Luiz Gustavo was in acres of space down the left and he clipped the ball to the far post, where Fred, in his archetypical style, heads home. Fred almost always scores ugly goals and this is one of them. Actually he is a yard offside. But he goes on a wild run in celebration. He must be the most relieved man on the planet, no?
Fernandinho built that attack. He replaced the disappointing Paulinho.
11:02:09 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Fred ineffective? Think again! This graph proves how dangerous Fred is – when he is involved, Brazil is able to create chances this game. You ‘ve got to love visual data, no?
— Stats Zone (@StatsZone) 23 juni 2014
10:58:08 pm - Mon 23 Jun
10:55:22 pm - Mon 23 Jun
10:54:16 pm - Mon 23 Jun
If you are taking a short break, do read this on the Red Devils:
10:52:13 pm - Mon 23 Jun
A succinct analysis:
Ineffectual Oscar & Paulinho symptomatic of #BRA approach – going long – but largely caused by latter's inability to start passing moves.
— Rupert Fryer (@Rupert_Fryer) 23 juni 2014
10:50:47 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Cameroon was in the ascendency for a while, and the Indomitable Lions are determined to keep it a competitive game after their first two dreadful showings. That said, it’s Brazil, who come closest to adding another goal. Fred, Oscar and the omnipresent Neymar triangulate their way into the box and they set up Hulk, who miscues it. That deserved better!
And that’s halftime. Quite an entertaining 45 minutes. Again not top-notch from Brazil, but Scolari will be the happier coach going into the dressing room. Can Brazil finish the Indomitable Lions or has Cameroon got one final fight left?
10:40:55 pm - Mon 23 Jun
10:38:47 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Whoever wrote this script, is taking the mickey out of us – football fans. Brazil in front again! GOOOOL DO BRASIL shouts Galvao Bueno at the top of his voice on TV Globo, as the ball hit the net. Neymar received a long pass from Marcelo, sneaked into the box and comfortably rolled the ball past a wrong-footed Itandje.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 23 juni 2014
10:31:28 pm - Mon 23 Jun
David Luiz can sing that national anthem with the best of them. But it doesn't stop him losing his man in the box at the crucial moments
— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceIndy) 23 juni 2014
10:29:39 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Cameroon may not know how to defend, but its defenders sure know how to attack and score. Nyom, a fullback, romped forward and passed a desperate Daniel Alves deep into Brazilian territory. He crossed it two central defender Matip, who scored one of the easiest goals of his life – a simple tap in.
10:26:23 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Commentator’s curse? Cameroon has equalized!
10:25:40 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Helicopters flying over Copacabana beach, fireworks going off. Yes, this is the World Cup in Brazil. The fans have settled down a bit now. They were restless, but now all seems well. Brazil en route to the round of sixteen.
10:24:03 pm - Mon 23 Jun
— Football__Tweet (@Football__Tweet) 23 juni 2014
10:22:53 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Great finish from Neymar – so subtle. And Brazil almost makes it two. It’s that boy Neymar again. He meets a dropping ball at the edge of the box and volleys it nonchalantly towards goal. Itandje parries with quite some difficulty.
10:20:41 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Neymar scores the 100th goal of this World Cup in Brazil's 100th World Cup match with a lovely side-footed one-timer. 1-0 #BRA, 19'.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) 23 juni 2014
10:19:46 pm - Mon 23 Jun
GOOOL DO BRASIL! Neymar brings salvation. Brazil has not looked comfortable at all, but boy wonder puts Brazil one up with a one-touch finish form Luiz Gustavo’s excellent cross. Neymar side footed the ball past a helpless Itandje.
10:16:12 pm - Mon 23 Jun
First image from Brasilia. You can’t fault Daniel Alves for effort here, as he tries to hold off Chopo-Mouting. The Barcelona right-back has been criticized for a lack of diligence in defense. He does tend to leave a lot of space in behind himself. Cameroon already exposed Alves once this game, but Enoh’s shot got blocked in the 11th minute. © Mowa Press
10:10:12 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Let’s not forget there is another game on – in Recife, it’s still scoreless between Croatia and Mexico.
10:07:18 pm - Mon 23 Jun
That Cameroon defense already looks shaky and Brazil haven’t gotten out of first gear yet. Neymar and Hulk carve open the African defense on the right and Fred should really score, but his misery continues as Itandje clears. Brazil makes its intentions clear straightaway.
This start more reminiscent of what we saw at Confeds. Paulinho so close to dream beginning for him. #BRA CMR
— Rupert Fryer (@Rupert_Fryer) 23 juni 2014
10:01:28 pm - Mon 23 Jun
And off we are…
10:00:34 pm - Mon 23 Jun
So how does Scolari react to all this criticism and the increasing pressure? Well, in fact, he doesn’t do much at all. He has chosen to show faith in his preferred XI.
Here is the whole cast for tonight.
Cameroon: Itandje, Nyom, Matip, N’Koulou, Bedimo, Enoh, Moukandjo, Mbia, N’Guemo, Choupo-Moting, Aboubakar.
Subs: Feudjou, Assou-Ekotto, Djeugoue, Nounkeu, Eto’o, Makoun, Chedjou, Webo, Fabrice, Salli, N’Djock.
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho, Gustavo, Hulk, Oscar, Neymar, Fred.
Subs: Jefferson, Fernandinho, Dante, Maxwell, Henrique, Ramires, Hernanes, Willian, Bernard, Jo, Maicon, Victor.
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)
9:58:02 pm - Mon 23 Jun
The host has been strangely absent at its own party. After a lucky win against Croatia in the opening game, Scolari’s XI disappointed and was comfortably held by Mexico. Fred took a lot of the blame for that poor display, but Brazil’s problems run deeper: its fullbacks remain vulnerable, Paulinho is woefully out of form in the midfield and there is a distinct lack creativity.
9:54:42 pm - Mon 23 Jun
And that is the Cameroon national anthem…
9:53:14 pm - Mon 23 Jun
This World Cup can’t be over soon enough for Finke’s squad, but can Cameroon leave the biggest stage of all with some dignity and walk that road of redemption? Personally, I think this is going to be a routine victory for Brazil, but if Cameroon do pull off the improbable, seismic shocks, not felt since the Maracanazo in 1950, will be felt in Brazil.
9:50:45 pm - Mon 23 Jun
— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) 23 juni 2014
9:49:19 pm - Mon 23 Jun
Unfortunately, for Cameroon, this has possibly its worst World Cup in history – and Eto’o is not to blame per se. He won’t even be playing tonight. Cameroon is already eliminated, going into the game with Brazil. The Indomitable Lions have, indeed, been quite a farce at this tournament. They threatened to strike over bonus payments before departure; Alex Song got himself needlessly sent off; they openly reprimanded each other during games, and, on top of all this, FIFA is investigating Cameroon for match-fixing, after some dubious plays against Croatia.
9:47:58 pm - Mon 23 Jun
This is the scene at the FIFA fan fest in Rio de Janeiro. It’s rather overcast, as you can see. But it hasn’t stopped the Brazilians fans from turning out in great numbers. This space can hold about 20,000 fans, and by the looks of it, they are all here.
9:45:14 pm - Mon 23 Jun
This is what I wrote about Cameroon before the start of the World Cup (http://mg.co.za/article/2014-06-12-could-this-be-africas-time-to-shine):
“Cameroon lost their three group games in South Africa and unfortunately the omens don’t bode well for the tournament in Brazil, where the Cameroonians have to face Mexico and Croatia, as well as the hosts, in Group A. The Indomitable Lions’ lucky break against Togo, who had three points deducted for fielding a suspended player, characterised Cameroon’s lacklustre qualifying campaign. German coach Volker Finke, a Freiburg coach for 16 years, tries to organise his team around Alex Song and Enoh Eyong, two excellent midfield holders. Samuel Eto’o spearheads the front line. His stormy character might disturb the much-needed tranquillity within the Cameroon camp and spoil their slim chances of emulating Roger Milla’s achievement in 1990.”
9:41:29 pm - Mon 23 Jun
BRASIL – CAMEROON
That Chile vs. Holland game was a bit of a dull affair – by this World Cup’s high standards. Goals from Depay and Ler, late in the second half, ensured a relatively comfortable win for the Duch. But let’s turn our attention now to the real deal – host nation Brazil takes on Cameroon. Hello and welcome from Copacabana beach!! Are you ready for another crazy 90 minutes of action? It’s the business end of the group stages.
4:37:56 pm - Sun 22 Jun
THE HALFWAY MARK
As the World Cup approaches the halfway mark today – at least 32 of the 64 games will have been played – Mail & Guardian sat down with Brazilian journalist Mauricio Savarese to get his thoughts on a remarkable tournament so far. Savarese is the co-author of the book A to Zico, an Alphabet of Brazilian Football.
The 2014 World Cup is well underway in Brazil as the group stages are slowly reaching a climax. The football on display has been excellent and its results rather unpredictable. Robin Van Persie scored arguably the goal of the tournament, Thomas Muller got a hat trick and Messi salvaged Argentina twice. Meanwhile, defending world champions Spain and England were flung out of the tournament and sent home.
“It has been the greatest World Cup that I can remember,” Mauricio Savarese, who first started watching the World Cup in 1990, says. “The 2006 World Cup was as bad as the 1990 World Cup. The best players were all defensive. Fabio Cannavaro won the FIFA World Player of the Year Award in 2006 and that set a trend until Pep Guardiola and Barcelona came along. The 2010 World Cup was a bit of a transition. Spain was a team that played good football but scored few goals and had a strong defense. Now, it is different. Holland has very good defenders but also very good attackers. If you score more goals now, you can win.”
Mega-events traditionally receive a lot of negative coverage before they start. It was widely feared that Brazil’s organization of the 20th World Cup might turn into a unmitigated disaster, but so far there have been no major problems. Empty seats, riots in Belo Horizonte between Brazilian and Argentinian fans and Chilean fans storming the media center at the Maracana have been among the main concerns for organizers. On the whole, Brazil seems to meet the much debated FIFA standards pretty well.
Transport was one of the big issues. “There were low expectations about the airports and Belo Horizonte and Salvador have problems, but they are not gigantic,” Savarese explains. “The airports are the bottlenecks of the country. They can handle 30 million people. It doesn’t change much during the World Cup. Most of the visitors are Chileans, Colombians, Ecuadorians and Argentinians. They know how to deal with it and adapt quickly.”
This highlights the fact that the foreign visitors, and by extent the World Cup itself, should be ready for Brazil, and not vice versa. Savarese adheres to this unconventional view. “Thierry Weil [FIFA Director of Marketing] said a few weeks ago that in Europe everything is carefully planned, in Brazil everything happens in the middle of the night,” Savarese begins. “I don’t stimulate this culture, but most people don’t understand how Brazil ticks. Brazil played a vital role by hosting the World Cup in 1950 after World War II and this time Brazil saved the rotation system.”
It is the second time Brazil hosts the biggest football tournament in the world, but the event doesn’t have widespread backing by the Brazilian public. “Brazilians are self-centered and self-absorbed,” Savarese says. “In Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo they want to look critical for the foreigners. Up north, the feeling is different. Manaus, for example, was always looked down on and now the city feels part of Brazil.”
While some results in Brazil have been surprising, notably Costa Rica topping group D, one trend has remained: the African teams are again falling short of their potential. “Only Ivory Coast has a chance of qualifying [for the knock out phase],” Savarese believes. “I have a hunch that African teams have surrendered themselves to European coaches. They have learned how to defend, but they have lost their characteristics. They are not a joy to watch anymore, like Nigeria in 1996 and 199 8 and Senegal in 2002. They were quick and sometimes naive up to the point of being inventive. Ivory Coast is a strong team, a bit like Switzerland.”
11:07:39 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Neymar holding his head in despair is possibly the best image (photo – © Mowa press) to wrap up our live updates for tonight. All of a sudden, Group A becomes interesting. Brazil, depending on the permutations, might not finish top of its group. That would mean, Scolari and co might meet Holland in the round of 16. Remember, what happened in Port Elizabeth? But, that’s all speculation. Let’s see what Croatia and Cameroon offer us tomorrow. For now, I wish you a good night.
10:59:20 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Slowly, Brazil’s fans begin the leave Copacabana beach. They don’t have much to celebrate, do they? ” The 0-0 shows a well-disputed game,” Scolari told Brazil’s broadcaster right after the game. “We have been with the same system for 20 games. We are good, but we are meeting good teams. The result is not good, because a win would have qualified us.”
10:54:45 pm - Tue 17 Jun
That’s the full-time whistle. A pulsating match, but without goals. El Tri goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa deserves a special mention for his antics tonight. But, overall, Brazil was disappointing. Scolari’s men have it all to do in their final group game against Cameroon.
10:51:51 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Julio Cesar received a lot of criticism before the tournament but you can’t fault him tonight. He prevents a late Mexican goal when he palms Jimenez’s half-volley away. A frantic end to this game.
10:47:15 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Lordy, Vasquez nearly broke Brazilian hearts…
10:45:09 pm - Tue 17 Jun
And Ochoa is thwarting the Brazilians. He saves Thiago Silva’s header with a super reflex. Neymar, who swung in the cross, can’t believe it. How on earth did Ochoa keep that out?
10:42:32 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Thiago Silva is booked as Brazil concede a free kick, but Giovanni Dos Santos’ effort is off target. In a final throw of the dice, Scolari takes off Oscar, who has been industrious but not at his best tonight, and brings on Chelsea’s Willian.
10:39:41 pm - Tue 17 Jun
10:37:15 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Brazil is putting the Mexican defense under pressure. Wave after wave of attacks, but the Mexian rearguard is holding firm.
Meanwhile, lots of cursing going on at the Copacabana. I will spare you the translation.
10:32:47 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Brazil has woken up. There is an urgency to the game now. Jo might not be a world-beater, but Brazil seems to realize with his presence that something needs to be done. Neymar tests Ochoa from close range, but the Mexican can keep goal!
By the way, did you know that Jo has the shortest name in World Cup history (or so, Infostrada Sports informs me)?
10:26:44 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Scolari introduces Jo for Fred…
10:26:11 pm - Tue 17 Jun
The first jeers at Copacabana beach. Scolari does cut a lonely figure on the touchline. His Brazil side look very ordinary – it seems when Brazil doesn’t have great individuals, the many fractures are laid bare. Neymar tries to bend it like Beckham, but it’s a yard wide.
10:19:03 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Brazil remains unimpressive. You might say Mexico is dominating. “Are we going to play?” asks Galvao Bueno, TV Globo’s commentator, somewhat rhetorically. Julio Cesar is suddenly a busy man as Vasquez and Herrera try their luck.
10:16:06 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Scolari said earlier this week, when asked about his relationship with his players, that he was their coach, friend, uncle and father. Not really sure what his facial expression is telling us here? He just looks frustrated. In fact, I think he is just cursing the referee. Photo - © Mowa press
10:10:47 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Bernard, who replaced Ramires, ventures forward on the right channel and his volleyed centre is cleared by Francisco Rodriguez. At last, Brazil shows some urgency. More to come?
10:07:09 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Captain Thiago Silva puts his studs on the Mexican captain Rafael Marquez. Then, Neymar is fouled. Hmmm, that’s another ugly start.
9:58:58 pm - Tue 17 Jun
The scoreline doesn’t dent the atmosphere at the FIFA Fan Fest in Rio de Janeiro. Fans from all over the world sing and dance to some jolly Brazilian tunes at Copacabana beach. This, indeed, is the biggest celebration on earth – the football world cup.
9:54:47 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Not the most exciting 45 minutes of this World Cup. Brazil didn’t click -again – and that must be worrying Scolari. The fullbacks have been rather quite. Neymar alone can’t carry the team and Oscar can’t reproduce his form of the Croatia game for the moment. Scolari will consider bringing on Willian or Bernard in the second half to spice it up a little. Mexico has to work very hard, run itself into the ground, but coach Herrara must be pleased with the way things are going.
9:46:20 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Vasquez and Paulinho come close, but it remains scoreless. And that’s the half-time whistle. Brazil – Mexico, 0-0.
9:44:20 pm - Tue 17 Jun
To be honest, you can’t deny this is a bit of a let down. Lots of industry, but a lack of quality on display. Where has Fred gone after a decent first ten minutes? Mexico lacks penetration. For Jorge Melodia, a self-proclaimed musician with grey hair, who stands next to me, it’s all doom and gloom. “If Brazil plays Germany, Holland or Belgium, our team will be eliminated, ” he exclaims.
9:39:01 pm - Tue 17 Jun
What do you think of Mexico’s away shirt? We are so used to seeing the Mexicans in green…
9:34:17 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Paulinho and Vasquez do battle during the first half of Brazil – Mexico at the Castelao stadium. Paulinho is tasked to shore up Brazil’s right side as much as he can. Meanwhile, Luiz Gustavo must contain danger man Giovanni Dos Santos. For now, it remains an enjoyable 0-0.
9:28:53 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Mexico, understandably, finds its much harder to keep possession against Brazil than against Cameroon. Rafael Marquez, the captain, tries to use all his experience to keep the ball in Mexican ranks. Hector Herrera smashes a shot towards goal, but Julio Cesar saves. At the other end, Neymar keeps creating havoc on the left. It’s Ochoa turn to produce an excellent save as Neymar’s downward header nearly sneaks in.
9:19:22 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Mexicans mark their presence in great numbers at the Copacabana beach. An estimated 15,000 fans of Herrera’s XI are said to be in attendance at the Castelao stadium. For now though, with just under 20 minutes played, Neymar and co hold the upper hand.
9:15:26 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Those cheers at Copacabana beach and at the Castelao stadium came a little too soon. Brazil recovers possession and Oscar skips past Aguilar – a situation Mexico definitely want to avoid this game – and Fred hits the side netting. Close, but no goal yet. Brazil is piling on the pressure. Fred, finally, looks a busy man, making runs off the ball and challenging defenders.
9:09:04 pm - Tue 17 Jun
It is a frantic start with the Mexicans playing a feisty game. Some neat interchanges of passes by Mexico. They certainly don’t look intimidated by Brazil.
9:00:40 pm - Tue 17 Jun
And off we are…
8:59:23 pm - Tue 17 Jun
But the Mexicans are also here at the FIFA fan fest. Ruben Mariel, with the red wig, from Guadalajara, is one of them. “Mexico will win 2-o,” he said. “I am sure of it. We have a good team and if we mark Neymar with two defenders it should be a good game.”
8:54:38 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Mexico’s anthem is underway. For those Brazilian fans (and sympathizers) out there, who want to give it a try themselves – the a capella version that is – here are the lyrics of ‘Hino Nacional Brasileiro’:
Ouviram do Ipiranga às margens plácidas
De um povo heroico o brado retumbante
E o sol da Liberdade, em raios fúlgidos
Brilhou no céu da Pátria nesse instante
Se o penhor dessa igualdade
Conseguimos conquistar com braço forte
Em teu seio, ó Liberdade
Desafia o nosso peito a própria morte!
Ó Pátria amada
Brasil, um sonho intenso, um raio vívido
De amor e de esperança à terra desce
Se em teu formoso céu, risonho e límpido
A imagem do Cruzeiro resplandece
Gigante pela própria natureza
És belo, és forte, impávido colosso
E o teu futuro espelha essa grandeza
Entre outras mil
És tu, Brasil
Ó Pátria amada!
Dos filhos deste solo és mãe gentil
8:52:59 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Lots has been said and written about Brazil’s national anthem and the way Brazilians ‘belted’ it out a cappella at the opening game in Sao Paulo. Expect no less today in Fortaleza! Thiago Silva and David Luiz have appealed in a video (check it here: http://globoesporte.globo.com/ce/copa-do-mundo/noticia/2014/06/thiago-silva-e-david-luiz-pedem-que-torcida-cante-hino-abracada-em-video.html ) to the Brazilians fans to sing the anthem, embracing one another. The tradition of singing the Brazilian anthem a cappella dates back to a friendly in between Brazil and Argentina in October 2012.
8:51:33 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Here is Mexico’s line-up: Ochoa Rodriguez, Marquez, Herrera, Layun, Dos Santos, Moreno, Guardado, Peralta, Aguilar, Vazquez.
8:50:28 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Brazil fans in a good mood. The party is truly and well underway at Copacabana, with about 10 minutes left before kick-off. This should be a good game. It will be if it’s half as good as the atmosphere here at Copacabana.
8:48:27 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Mexico and Brazil have quite a history, and not always a pleasant one from the host’s point of view. In 2012, Brazil suffered another Olympic trauma, losing the gold medal match to Mexico. Herrera’s XI got its World Cup off to a good start, winning by the narrowest of margins against a feeble Cameroon.
Mexico will line-up somewhere in between a 5-3-2 and a 4-1-4-1. Layun and Aguilar have to provide overlap on the wings. Giovanni Dos Santos’s versatility might cause Luiz Gustavo problems in the midfield. Up front, Peralta, a scourge during the Olympic final, will test the resolve of David Luiz and Thiago Silva. Javier Hernandez starts on the bench.
8:43:49 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Coincidentally, Brazil – Mexico marks Scolari’s 50th game at the helm of the Selecao Brasileira. That is quite a feat. Remember that he won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil in the Far East. Surprisingly, the Castelao in Fortaleza is Scolari’s true home when coaching Brazil. The venue has hosted Scolari’s Brazil three times, more than any other stadium. In 2002, Brazil defeated Yugoslavia 1-0 and lost with a similar scoreline to Paraguay in Fortaleza. Last year at the Confederations Cup, Brazil scored twice to defeat today’s opponents and Scolari will certainly be hoping for the same outcome.
8:38:31 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Here is Brazil’s line-up: J.César; D.Alves, T.Silva, D.Luiz, Marcelo; Paulinho, L.Gustavo; Ramires, Oscar, Neymar; Fred.
8:35:29 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Worse even, ‘the incredible Hulk’ is not fit for today’s game with Mexico. Hulk had to abandon training on Sunday with a painful thigh. Scolari will stick to his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. Ramires starts on the right. The Chelsea player is less physical than Hulk, but brings more speed to the game. In the second half, Scolari might bring Bernard or Willian on.
8:34:31 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is a worried man. Croatia proved to be a tough nut to crack last Thursday. Luckily Neymar and Oscar came to the rescue with outstanding performances, but some of Brazil’s weaknesses were exposed: Marcelo and Daniel Alves, the full-backs, were often caught out of position and Brazil lacked creativity and ball circulation in the middle of the park.
8:32:47 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Hello, and welcome to you all! We are live at the famous Copacabana beach – bright sunshine, cold beer (well, not for us), plenty of football fans and a big screen, what more do you need? We will bring you updates as the host Brazil takes on Mexico in its second group game.
8:28:41 pm - Tue 17 Jun
Is this the best World Cup ever? If the quality of Nigeria’s crosses, yesterday, is anything to go by, no. But it has been a marvelous spectacle so far in Brazil: Oscar’s little toe poke in Sao Paulo, Robin Van Persie’s leaping header and Arjen Robben’s Bergkamp-esque touches in Salvador, Andrea Pirlo’s utter dominance in the boiling heat of Manaus, Messi gently caressing of the ball in Rio de Janeiro and Thomas Muller’s obliteration of Cristiano Ronaldo in Salvador. Football fans have been on a mad ecstasy-filled roller coaster ride since last Thursday and they want this party to never end.
12:40:57 am - Fri 13 Jun
Before you turn to bed, here is some mandatory reading about the World Cup.
Take a look at Samindra Kunti’s preview of the African teams in Brazil: http://mg.co.za/article/2014-06-12-could-this-be-africas-time-to-shine
Daniel Taylor takes a look at the intriguing clash between England and Italy on Sunday: http://mg.co.za/article/2014-06-12-its-all-about-pirlo-and-possession
We apologize for the intermittent coverage of the opening game, but the internet connection at Copacabana beach was not as glamorous as the beach itself. After the game, the Brazilian fans at Copacabana chanted ‘Sou Brasileiro com muito orgulho.’ The day, indeed, belongs to Brazil and its 200 million football fans. From us, here in Rio de Janeiro, it’s good night and goodbye.
12:35:54 am - Fri 13 Jun
It wasn’t exactly a samba party, but Brazil has won the opening game – to the great relief of the Brazilian players, technical staff and fans. It was a feisty game and Brazil showed its vulnerability at the back. A phantom penalty turned the game in Brazil’s favor. Neymar converted to score his second of the game. In the dying minutes of the game, Oscar added a third, after Julio Cesar had produced a couple of good saves. While Neymar drew all the attention, Oscar was probably Brazil’s best player. FT: Brazil 3 – Croatia 1.
11:22:57 pm - Thu 12 Jun
10:59:56 pm - Thu 12 Jun
Very entertaining opening 45 minutes in Sao Paulo. Marcelo scored Brazil’s first own-goal in World Cup history. A part of the lights went in the stadium. Brazil was clearly suffering from stage fright. With 76 percent of possession midway the half, Brazil had not mustered much. But then, that boy Neymar, rose to he occasion as he sneaked in an excellent, low shot passed Croatian goalkeeper Pletikosa after 29 minutes. Oscar did the hard work in the midfield.
1-1 at the break, game on!
10:40:33 pm - Thu 12 Jun
9:55:01 pm - Thu 12 Jun
And so the teams are out. The long wait is over…
9:53:51 pm - Thu 12 Jun
A lack of proper internet connection is preventing us from sending you proper images from the famous Copacabana beach, where we are based for the game. I can tell you it is rather overcast. No Brazilian sunshine!
9:51:17 pm - Thu 12 Jun
Croatia might well be party-poopers. Brazil struggled against the Croatians in its opener in 2006. Kaka’s curly shot, just before the break, was the difference between the two sides. Croatian coach Nico Kovac, ex-Bayern Munich player, deploys his troops usually in a 4-2-3-1 formation. He is accused of playing too defensively with an emphasis on organization, but in Luka Modric, the ‘Croatian Cruyff’, and Mateo Kovavic he has excellent forward-minded players. Mario Mandzukic is suspended for today’s game.
9:50:08 pm - Thu 12 Jun
Are Brazilians suffering from hubris? That is exactly what happened on July 13th, 1950, when Brazil suffered from the famous ‘Maracanazo.’ Brazilian playwright Nelson Rodrigues coined it ‘Our Hiroshima.’ World Cup legend Carlos Alberto Torres, who scored Brazil’s last game in the 1970 World Cup final against Italy, has warned against so much confidence.”You have to keep your feet on the ground,” he said.
9:44:36 pm - Thu 12 Jun
Brazilians are confident. Yesterday, Scolari addressed the nation. He spoke of a seven-steps plan – as many games as it takes to climb the winner’s podium.
“To all Brazilians, I want to tell you the time has arrived,” said Scolari.
“This is our World Cup.There are seven steps. We have to go up those seven steps but to start we have to think of the first step. We can’t jump the seven steps. The first step is against Croatia. After that we have six steps that we want to go up if we want to win the World Cup.”
9:35:55 pm - Thu 12 Jun
Does Brazil really need an introduction? Yes, and no. Brazil has won the World Cup five times and is considered the rightful owner of the beautiful game. That, said Spain has recently dethroned Brazil as the masters of the game. But Brazil is keen to prove a point at home. The Selecao doesn’t boast household names like Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Romario, Ronaldinho, Cafu and Roberto Carlos anymore. All eyes are on the one big star,Neymar. He is surrounded by a group of decent players. Coach Scolari tends to play a 4-2-3-1 with captain Thiago Silva and Chelsea’s David Luiz at the heart of the defense. Fred is the lone striker up top.
9:27:35 pm - Thu 12 Jun
“A bola vai rolar”, Brazilians would say – the ball is about the role. Indeed, at 17.00 local time,in just over 30 minutes, host Brazil entertains Croatia at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo’s east zone in the opening game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
9:25:28 pm - Thu 12 Jun
That opening ceremony was rather short. The Brazilian flag was carried on to the pitch and Jennifer Lopez got in on the act. All in all, that was not too bad. But let’s now concentrate on the football.
8:47:24 pm - Thu 12 Jun
Meanwhile, the Brazilian team bus has arrived at the stadium, Arena Corinthians in São Paulo’ east zone.
8:39:11 pm - Thu 12 Jun
The opening ceremony is underway. Colorful and full of dancing – Brazil at its very best. The ceremony is showcasing the diversity and beauty of Brazil and sets the scene for the Opening Match between the host nation and Croatia at 17:00. “The Opening Ceremony is a tribute to Brazil and its treasures: nature, people football,” the show’s Belgian artistic director Daphne Cornez told Fifa.com.
8:25:44 pm - Thu 12 Jun
Hello, and a warm welcome from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2010, South Africa hosted a month-long football festival that culminated with Spain defeating Holland in the final at Soccer City in Johannesburg. Iniesta scored with a half-volley in extra-time to crown ‘La Roja’ world champions. Do you remember that? I bet you do. And don’t tell me you are not a tad excited about this World Cup. Brazil, the spiritual home of football, is welcoming the world to its shores for the biggest show on earth.
8:18:56 pm - Thu 12 Jun
“#SomosTodosBrasil.” That’s the cover headline of Brazil’s biggest sports daily ‘Lance’ today. “We are ready to realize the dream of Brazilians,” said Neymar, Brazil’ boy wonder, yesterday. Is the Seleção truly ready to embark on its mission to win a sixth World Cup title? You’d think so. Brazil has been holed up in the mountains since May 26th to prepare for the big kick-off and defeated Panama and Serbia in its last two friendlies. But the pressure on Neymar and co is immense. In 1950, Brazil lost the World Cup on home soil against Uruguay. Can the Brazilians finally exorcize those demons?